Cerebral Palsy Blog

Cerebral Palsy Blog

Study Points to Gender Differences in Newborn Recovery from Brain Injury

Monday, February 03, 2014

Gender differences in recovery patterns after a brain injury during birth have been evident for a while now. Doctors have been aware that male children, who have suffered a brain injury during around the time of birth, may suffer more extensive damage, compared to girls. Recent research conducted by The Johns Hopkins Children's Center provides reasons for such gender differences in recovery.

The results of the research were presented recently in a scientific journal, and seem to indicate that there are inherent gender-based differences in the way the brains of newborn babies react to a sex hormone called estradiol. Those differences in the reaction to this hormone could cause those gender-specific responses to brain damage, and consequent cell repair. According to the researchers, the study unveiled what they call “intriguing differences” in the way male and female newborn brains respond to a brain injury, after oxygen deprivation.

A brain injury due to oxygen deprivation during or around the time of birth typically can cause long-term brain damage, resulting in conditions like cerebral palsy. The researchers say that the neurons in a newborn baby's brains undergo different types of cell damage, following oxygen deprivation depending on the gender of the child. However, the study which was based on experiments on mice, also found that male newborn babies’ brains, although they are at a much higher risk of extensive brain damage after a birth injury, may also respond better to certain cell damage-blocking treatments.

While oxygen deprivation is one of the more commonly understood causes of cerebral palsy, it is not the only one. Cerebral palsy can also occur as a result of complications during childbirth, maternal infections during pregnancy, and excessive jaundice in the newborn baby.

Wolf of Wall Street Criticized for Insensitive Cerebral Palsy Reference

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Everyone’s talking about the Wolf of Wall Street movie which depicts the excesses of Wall Street stock traders. There have been a string of criticisms against the movie, accusing it of glamorizing the criminal lifestyle that contributed to the recession, as well as the unpardonably high number of cuss words used in the movie. However, one aspect of the movie seems to have gotten relatively ignored, and that is the several derogatory references to cerebral palsy specifically, and mental retardation in general, in the movie. Cerebral palsy advocacy groups have been especially disappointed at the derogatory references to retardation, and at one point, a completely insensitive reference to cerebral palsy in the movie.

In the movie, the word “retard”, is used at least twice. In one scene, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is depicted describing his drug experience, as mimicking the symptoms of cerebral palsy. In actual words, DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort describes his drug-induced euphoria as being at the “cerebral palsy phase.”

Cerebral palsy advocacy groups including United Cerebral Palsy recently issued a joint statement, which criticized the movie for its unacceptable references to cerebral palsy and mental disorders in the movie. According to the statement, many of the people who watched the movie in recent weeks are people who are disabled, their families and friends, and it is high time that Hollywood wakes up to the reality that there are people with cerebral palsy living happy lives in this country. Movie makers need to understand that they must treat persons with this condition much more respectfully.

Many children, who suffer from cerebral palsy, can go on to live long, happy and satisfying lives. However, in cases where the child suffers from an extremely severe form of cerebral palsy, life expectancy may diminish.

Banked Cord Blood Helps Bring about Improvement in Child at Risk of Cerebral Palsy

Friday, January 03, 2014

Doctors now encourage parents to bank the stem cells in their baby's umbilical cord after birth. One set of parents has found significant improvement from the use of these stem cells in their child, who had suffered a stroke in utera.

Soon after birth, the mother noticed jerking movements in the little baby, and when the baby was taken in for an MRI, the results showed that she had actually suffered a stroke in utera. A piece of the placenta had become detached, and had been transmitted to the brain through her umbilical cord. The child had suffered seizures after she was born.

The parents received a poor prognosis of the child. According to doctors, since the stroke had occurred in the left area of the brain, the child's ability to move her right arm and right leg had been compromised. The doctors also predicted that she would never walk or talk without intensive therapy, and that she would lose 25% of her brain functioning. The parents worried that she would be at risk of cerebral palsy.

Fortunately, her parents had banked stem cells from the placenta after birth, and approached a clinical trial that was being conducted at Duke University. Cord blood of a baby contains hematopoietic progenitor cells, which are stem cells that are typically used in the treatment of lymphoma and leukaemia. For the past 25 years, the pediatric transplant program at Duke University has been using umbilical cord blood, to treat neurological conditions, including injuries affecting on the brain. The baby was included in the trial.

According to the parents, since the trial began, the child has shown significant improvement. Contrary to the doctor's predictions that she would never be able to use one side of her body, she is now able to use both side of a body, and has been showing no signs of any developmental delays.